Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What COVID-Era travel changes are likely here to stay? Also in the news: How to travel cheaply and safely this summer, 5 key credit card strategies for international travel, and the best no-fee credit card welcome bonuses right now.

What COVID-Era Travel Changes Are Likely Here to Stay?
The pandemic has changed the standards for working on the road and cleanliness on airplanes.

How to Travel Safely and Cheaply This Summer
Continue to follow CDC guidelines for travel, but book sooner than later to save money for summer trips.

5 Key Credit Card Strategies for International Travelers
People who spend a lot of time abroad should look for travel credit cards with international perks and partners.

The Best No-Fee Credit Card Welcome Bonuses Right Now
You don’t need to pay a big annual fee to get a bonus.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How shopping small makes a big impact in your community. Also in the news: How Biden’s capital gains tax hike could affect you, 5 key credit card strategies for international travelers, and why fake travel sites are fooling more people.

How Shopping Small Makes a Big Impact in Your Community
Invest in your community.

Would Biden’s Capital Gains Tax Hike Affect You? Probably Not
The average retirement saver should carry on as usual, since capital gains taxes typically don’t apply to investments like 401(k)s.

5 Key Credit Card Strategies for International Travelers
People who spend a lot of time abroad should look for travel credit cards with international perks and partners.

Why Fake Travel Sites Are Fooling More People
Don’t get duped.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 key credit card strategies for international travelers. Also in the news: How an iBuyer helps gets the timing right, missing the boat on SPACs, and how to plan for your student loan payments to resume this October.

5 Key Credit Card Strategies for International Travelers
People who spend a lot of time abroad should look for travel credit cards with international perks and partners.

The Property Line: How an iBuyer Helps Get the Timing Right
iBuyers let you make a non-contingent offer, set a flexible closing date and give you the power to buy with cash.

Miss the Boat on SPACs? It May Be for the Better
The SPAC party may be over, but if you missed it, you likely didn’t miss much.

How to Plan for Your Student Loan Payments to Resume This October
Only a few months left.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do with extra money? Also in the morning: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on air travel and collection accounts on credit reports, 6 reasons not to skip renters insurance, and how not to sabotage your savings with self-care.

What to Do With Extra Money
Extra cash is great, but what should you do with it? Investing is often the answer.

Smart Money Podcast: Air Travel and Collections Accounts on Credit Reports
Time to get back in the skies?

6 Reasons Not to Skip Renters Insurance
Renters insurance covers more than just the stuff in your apartment.

Don’t Let Self-Care Sabotage Your Savings
Self-care doesn’t have to punish your bank account.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 things you can buy for less on Memorial Day. Also in the news: Why declining rental car insurance abroad is risky, hidden hotel fees that could spoil your stay, and 15 money-saving tips for big families.

3 Things You Can Buy for Less on Memorial Day
A handy cheat sheet.

Declining Rental Car Insurance Abroad? Know the Risks
Why you might need more coverage.

Don’t Let Hidden Hotel Fees Spoil Your Stay
Stay away from the minibar.

15 Money-Saving Tips for Big Families
Learning from the experts.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 keys to budgeting as a freelancer. Also in the news: What you can learn about saving from a former big spender, why small business owners should offer pension plans, and what you need to know about credit cards when you travel abroad.

3 Keys to Budgeting as a Freelancer
Keeping a steady budget without steady income.

What You Can Learn About Saving From a Former Big Spender
Tips on what NOT to do.

Why Small-Business Owners Should Offer Pension Plans
Battling the retirement savings crisis.

What you need to know about credit cards when you travel abroad
Watch out for fees.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Holiday-tipping-in-tough-times-7FKMMIM-x-largeToday’s top story: For international travel, MasterCard has a slight edge on Visa. Also in the news: How to build a multi-million dollar retirement fund, 10 ways to end 2016 on a financial high note, and 8 ways to keep a leash on your holiday spending.

For International Travel, MasterCard Has Slight Edge on Visa
Which card has the best rates?

How to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Retirement Fund
Step-by-step.

10 Ways to End 2016 on a Financial High Note
Ending the year strong.

8 Ways To Keep A Leash On Holiday Spending
Don’t go overboard.

Q&A: Converting currency abroad

Dear Liz: After reading your column about the best ways to pay while traveling in Europe, I want to share my experience. I was unhappy with the foreign transaction fee charged on my Citibank credit card, so on my next trip to Europe I primarily used my Capital One card. Imagine my disappointment to find that Capital One’s currency conversion formula was much less favorable to me than Citibank’s.

Answer: Credit card expert Odysseas Papadimitriou suspects you were comparing purchases made on different days, or even on different trips. Although one of your cards charges a foreign transaction fee and the other doesn’t, both cards get the most favorable rate from their card network’s exchange rate. Visa cards would get the Visa card network exchange rate, while MasterCard would get the MasterCard network exchange rate. If both your cards were Visas, for example, they would get the same exchange rate, but the one that charged the foreign transaction fee would increase your cost by that amount (typically 1% to 3%).

There may be “tiny” differences between those Visa and MasterCard exchange rates on a given day, but one wouldn’t be “much less favorable” than the other, Papadimitriou said.

And the exchange rates are certainly better than what you’d get by exchanging dollars for euros at a bank in advance of your trip, or by using currency exchange services once you got there.

So the fact remains that the cheapest way to convert currency is to do so automatically by making purchases with a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Here’s another suggestion for reducing fees abroad:

Dear Liz: One option for folks traveling to Europe to save money on ATM withdrawals is to check with their bank and find out if there is a checking or savings account that carries the benefit of the bank canceling foreign ATM fees as well as their own fees. Before I traveled to Scotland to visit my daughter, I switched accounts at my bank to one where there are no fees for using other banks’ ATMs. Worked brilliantly!

Answer: If your own bank doesn’t offer this option, it may be worth setting up a checking account with a bank that does. As mentioned in the previous column, Charles Schwab’s high-yield checking account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide with no foreign transaction fees, and Capital One 360, the online bank, waives ATM fees and absorbs MasterCard’s 1% foreign transaction fee. USAA Bank charges a 1% foreign transaction fee but doesn’t charge a fee for the first 10 ATM withdrawals.